Ground disturbance is defined as any activity that compacts or disturbs the ground within a project area. The project area is defined as all areas where project activities will occur, including: the actual construction activities, permanent easements, temporary construction easements, staging areas for supplies and equipment, and borrow pits. Ground disturbance can also be caused by the use of hand tools (shovels, pick axe, posthole digger, etc.), heavy equipment (excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, trenching and earthmoving equipment, etc.), and heavy trucks (large four wheel drive trucks, dump trucks and tractor trailers, etc.).
Trenching, bulldozing, excavating, scraping, and plowing are typical examples of ground disturbance activities.
Project types that usually involve ground disturbance include acquisition/demolition/relocation of structures; vegetation management; landslide stabilization; and infrastructure projects such as utilities, storm water management, and flood control. However, any projects that include the installation of utilities, culverts, temporary roads or structures, permanent roads, foundations and footers all typically involve ground disturbance activities.